Fresh goat cheese and cream cheese make up these cheesecake bars studded with fresh raspberries and blueberries, all perched atop a gluten-free pistachio shortbread crust.
Today is the fifth blogiversary of The Bojon Gourmet! I can’t believe how the time has flown by. Five years ago, I wanted to share a recipe I’d developed for sourdough crackers made with spelt flour, and Jay encouraged me to put the recipe up on a blog. (Thanks, hon!) I loved creating and sharing recipes so much that I’m still at it five years later, just as obsessively as ever.
I’m most grateful for all of the amazing people I’ve met, virtually and in the flesh, through writing this blog. A huge thanks to everyone who reads, makes, comments, and shares! It is your support that keeps me thinking up recipes, making them 20 times until I get them just right, taking pictures of my dinner until it’s cold, and (sometimes) forgoing watching Arrested Development in favor of writing late-night posts. I could do it without you… but I probably wouldn’t – that would be no fun at all.
This is an extra-fun month for me not only due to reaching the five year mark, but also because recipes of mine are featured in print for the first time since I won a recipe contest eight years ago. (And then they didn’t even print my actual recipe. More on that here.) Along with a host of scrumptious Fall recipes, Go Gluten-Free‘s September/October issue boasts two of my favorite Fall libations (Pomegranate Margaritas and Homemade Irish Cream Liqueur) in a spread called In Good Spirits.
To celebrate the blogiversary last weekend, we made some of our favorite late-summer dishes and invited a few friends over to help us eat them. There was Melon with Feta, Mint and Lime,
and a few local cheeses, pickles, olives, and crackers. (In fact, altogether we had nine different types of cheese, including the two in the dessert. Fitting.) Amelia, my dear friend and biggest fan, brought a Farmer’s Market Cornbread
and a batch of Gluten-Free+ Vegan Chocolate Chip Almond Butter Cookies.
(And noting that the fifth anniversary is known as the “wooden anniversary,” she also brought me a beautiful teak board that I can’t wait to shoot food on.) Other friends showered me with flowers, champagne, and about 20 pounds of home-grown concord grapes (recipe coming soon), proving that blogiversaries are way better than regular birthdays.
For dessert I made a version of the Huckleberry Chèvre Cheesecake Squares that I developed four years ago to celebrate my site’s first birthday. Huckleberries are in season from now until late November, but we haven’t yet had time to forage for them, so I used raspberries and blueberries instead, which are still in season here and work beautifully. I upped the goat cheese, and traded the all-purpose flour in the crust for a neutral-tasting blend of millet, sweet rice flour, and cornstarch.
The protein in the nuts joins forces with the sticky rice flour to help the crust hold together, and it bakes into a buttery-salty shortbread that is the perfect foil for tangy cheese topping and sweet-tart berries. Vanilla bean and lemon zest give these tiny sweets a big, bold cheesecake flavor.
Many thanks to all of the loving and supportive readers in my life, and especially Jay, who not only wins the artisan bread and brings home the pasture-raised bacon, but also does the dishes.
Five years ago:
Spelty Sourdough Crackers
Berry Chèvre Cheesecake Squares with Gluten-Free Pistachio Crust
Adapted from my Huckleberry Chèvre Cheesecake Squares which were adapted from Williams Sonoma Baking
These bars take about 1 1/2 hours total to assemble and bake, plus an additional 4 hours to cool and chill. They are excellent the day of and after baking, when the crust is still crisp, but keep well for up to 4 or 5 days in the fridge.These will be extra delicious if made with high-quality cream cheese and fresh goat’s cheese; I prefer Sierra Nevada cheeses, which are free from gums and stabilizers. To quickly warm your cheeses and eggs to room temperature (essential to achieving non-lumpy cheesecake), place a towel on top of your preheating oven. Scoop the cheeses into a metal bowl, and the eggs (cracked or not) in another bowl. Place the bowls on the towel while you make your crust. Rotate occasionally, and remove when they reach room temperature to the touch.The bars are easily made in a food processor. Lacking one, you can chop the nuts finely by hand, and mix both the crust and filling in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, or by hand in a large bowl. For a more pronounced goat cheesy flavor, substitute another 2 – 4 ounces of chevre for an equal amount of cream cheese.For thicker bars, bake the cake in a 9″ square pan and increase the baking time by about 10 minutes.
Makes 24 medium-sized bars
For the Crust:
3/4 cup shelled pistachios (I used raw ones, but toasted ones are fine, too), plus extra for decorating (optional)
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons millet flour
1/2 cup sweet white rice flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/3 cup organic blonde cane sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, cold, cut into 3/4″ chunks
For the Filling:
6 ounces fresh goat cheese, room temperature
10 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
3/4 cup organic blonde cane sugar
2 tablespoons sweet white rice flour
seeds from 1 vanilla bean, or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
zest of 1 small lemon
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 eggs, room temperature
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries (plus extra for decorating)
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries (plus extra for decorating)
Position a rack in the bottom-center of your oven and preheat to 350º. Line a 9 x 12″ rimmed baking pan with 2 pieces of parchment paper or aluminum foil cut to fit width-wise, leaving an overhang on each side. (This will help you lift the cake out of the pan after baking, making cutting easier.)
Make the crust:
In the bowl of a food processor, combine the pistachios, millet flour, rice flour, cornstarch, sugar and salt. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture begins to form large, coarse crumbs, and holds together when squeezed, about 30 seconds. Dump the mixture into the lined pan, and press firmly and evenly with your hands.
Bake the crust until golden and puffed, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and gently press the crust down with the back of a spoon, or the bottom of a flat measuring cup; this will help it hold together when sliced.
Make the filling:
Meanwhile, wipe out the food processor. Combine the cheeses, sugar, flour, vanilla bean seeds, lemon zest and salt and blend just until smooth, about 5-10 seconds. Add the eggs, process until smooth, then scrape down the bowl. Add the cream and process until smooth. Scrape once more, and blend again if at all lumpy.
Scatter the berries evenly over the cooled crust, and pour the filling over, distributing it evenly. Bake the cheesecake until the center is set, 15-25 minutes. It should wobble like jell-o when you shake it gently, but not be watery or liquid. Remove to a cooling rack and let cool 1 hour, then cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 3 hours, or overnight, until firm and cold.
To slice the bars, use the parchment paper handles to carefully lift the cheesecake out of the pan (it may crack a little bit, but this is not the end of the world.) Place on a large cutting board. Fill a pitcher with hot tap water and have some paper towels handy, or an old (but clean!) dish towel that you don’t mind getting stained. With a large, sharp chef’s knife dipped in the hot water and wiped completely dry between each cut, cut the cheesecake into 24 squares (or whatever size you like).
Place each square in a standard paper muffin liner if you like, and top with a pistachio, halved raspberry, and a blueberry.
Store the bars in an airtight container in the fridge for up to four or five days.